WAC cancels all spring sports, ends UTRGV’s year

EDINBURG — The Western Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of all sports for the remainder of the academic year Wednesday due to concerns about the safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sports currently in-season include baseball, golf, tennis and outdoor track & field, whose seasons are all cut short.

“The Western Athletic Conference Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to cancel all WAC competition and championships through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the athletic year. This follows the earlier decision to suspend all WAC competition until further notice and the decision by the NCAA to cancel all remaining winter and spring NCAA Championships,” the WAC said in an official statement.

“From Day 1, our first priority has been the welfare of our student-athletes. While we are disappointed that our spring seasons have been cut short, it is certainly the right decision,” UTRGV Athletic Director and Vice President Chasse Conque said. “I personally feel for our student-athletes, and in particular our seniors. Many of our programs were experiencing success on the courts and fields of play over the past several weeks and we were all looking forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season.”

The UTRGV baseball team was riding an eight-game winning streak before its season came to an end at 11-7 overall. The Vaqueros played their best ball in front of their home fans by going 10-3 at UTRGV Baseball Stadium, while averaging 1,087 fans per game, the program’s highest mark in more than 10 years.

The Vaqueros ranked 12th in the nation in shutouts (three), 40th in walks drawn (85), 44th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.4), 58th in hits (155) and double plays turned (12), 63rd in doubles (31) and sacrifice flies (eight), 64th in runs scored (108), and 66th in on-base percentage (.385).

UTRGV was also one of just three teams in the NCAA to turn a triple play this season.

The men’s golf team completes its season on a winning note as the Vaqueros earned a victory at the Colin Montgomerie Invitational, one of two wins for the team this season. UTRGV finished in the top five in five of its seven tournaments this year.

The women’s golf team put together its best finish of the season in its last outing by placing fourth at the UTRGV Invitational. The Vaqueros finished in the top eight of three tournaments this year.

The men’s tennis team also ended its season riding high with a three-match winning streak. UTRGV went 6-4 over its final 10 contests.

The women’s tennis season comes to a close after UTRGV won its final home match 7-0 over Laredo Community College. The Vaqueros won 72 of the 77 singles and doubles sets against LCC.

The track & field team completed the indoor season Feb. 28-29 with nine WAC Championships, and was previously scheduled to being the outdoor season this upcoming weekend.

Finally, the UTRGV men’s basketball team, which is technically a winter sport, had its season cut short the day before competing in the WAC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. The Vaqueros earned the No. 2 seed in the WAC tourney, the highest UTRGV has ever finished in WAC play. UTRGV ended the season 14-16 overall and 9-7 in the WAC, and capped it off with a 79-76 overtime thriller victory against California Baptist at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.

The NCAA announced last week the possibility of eligibility relief for players participating in spring sports who lost a season of competition.

“We are in the midst of difficult times with so many unknowns, but we are operating with a laser focus to ensure that our student-athletes are well taken care of and have the necessary support they need. We will get through this together and will come out on the other side stronger,” Conque said.

bramos@themonitor.com